Mudcat Café message #3945121 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3945121
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
20-Aug-18 - 06:54 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"All histories are revised by succeeding generations when people ask different questions of the sources"

This is an interesting point. Earlier on I quoted singer and writer Vic Gammon on how pure objectivity is an impossibility and how we always reflect our own context. So I agree broadly with the comment, while also having found Roud's book useful and interesting because of his focus on contemporary sources of information relating to the centuries he discusses. It certainly feels more 'objective' than some work on folklore.

His 'century by century' approach is useful partly because in each chapter you will find evidence of songs which we still know about and can identify being sung in that century. He starts with the 16th century, and provides evidence of people knowing 'Chevy Chase'. He then gives some background of that song. He points out that there is a version written from the Scottish point of view and one written from the English point of view. He says we don't know for certain which version came first.

The sixteenth century chapter has many 'gems', as does the rest of the book. For example, there were attempt to deal with the problem of vagrants roaming the country: you were supposed to stay in your own area, and the laws to deal with this focussed on musicians and singers as well as vagrants generally. (This system lasted a long time: if you were distitute you would get sent back to your 'parish of settlement' so that the ratepayers there carried the expense.) I think people were busking and seen as linked to pickpocketing and so on. And no doubt some were. Musicians (aristocracy apart) had to take care not to fall foul of the laws.

There were several cases of a man who ended up in trouble because he took a job playing the fiddle at a wedding a few miles away from his home.